Boaters Climb Onto Hull After Capsizing Off Haulover

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For the second time this week, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boat came to the rescue of several men after their boat took on water and capsized.

Thursday morning, just before 9 a.m., a county fire boat, along with a Miami Fire Rescue boat and a Coast Guard vessel and helicopter, were dispatched to search for people in the water.

About six miles off the Haulover Inlet, they found three men and a 30-foot center console boat floating upside down just under the surface of the water.

miami dade fire boat Boaters Climb Onto Hull After Capsizing Off Haulover

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s FireBoat #21 takes three rescued boaters to Haulover Marina. (Source: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue)

The men were pulled from the water and put aboard the county’s fire boat, which took them to the Haulover Marina. One of the men was taken away in handcuffs because, according to a Miami-Dade Police officer on the scene, there was a warrant for his arrest on an outstanding traffic violation.

The men said the boat’s bilge pump went out and the boat began to be swamped.

“It took on water, took on lots of water, then it sank,” said Alberto Gutierrez, who was piloting the boat.

The boat capsized, but not before someone was able to make a cell phone call for help. The boaters then crawled up on the hull.

“They called 911 immediately as they saw that the boat was going to capsize. They got their phone and called 911 and, through the GPS function of the phone, we were able to get a precise location,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Ivan Alicott. “We were able to go directly to them and pick them up.”

Gutierrez said he and his friends were thankful for the technology and their rescuers.

“I’m very, very glad that they were there,” Gutierrez said, swigging repeatedly from a large bottle of scotch whiskey as he spoke with reporters. “We are very grateful.”

While an ebullient Gutierrez drank with gusto after making it to land, police say he would have been charged if they suspected he was impaired while operating the boat.

The owner of the boat might understandably have been driven to drink, as well. He wasn’t on the vessel. His friends had borrowed it. The boat’s owner was not identified.

On Tuesday, a county fire boat crew assisted in the rescue of four men after their 20-foot open fishermen took on water and capsized about a mile and a half off Government Cut.

The men said the boat got caught up in a sudden storm that sprung up offshore. Their anchor held them like a tub filling with water.

Miami Beach Police and a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boat assisted the Coast Guard in their search for the boaters in distress. By the time the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boat reached them, the boat had rolled over and was partially submerged under the sea.

All of the men were pulled from the water and taken to the Jungle Island Marina.

No one was injured in the Tuesday capsizing off Government Cut or Thursday’s off Haulover Inlet.

More from Gary Nelson
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